Archive for March, 2018

Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) 2018

Posted in What I've Seen This Week on March 13, 2018 by moviemoses

So I was kind of excited to see this movie despite my growing exhaustion with comic book movies. This movie got stellar reviews and it is always nice to see diversity in Hollywood. And then I saw the movie…

Okay so my biggest problem with the movie is probably with the Black Panther himself. He is far too overpowered. The man has super strength and agility and wears a vibranium suit (the same stuff as Captain America’s shield) essentially making him unstoppable. Seriously, nothing can penetrate or break vibranium. Now I know some people will come back saying other superheroes are overpowered like Superman and Vision. True but comics and films either try to power up the bad guys or put innocents in danger. Here in this movie, Black Panther is simply fighting bad guys with weapons we know can’t affect him so all of his action scenes are completely boring. Also the character of Panther/T’Challa is rather boring himself and the movie struggles to find any real inner conflict for him.

The movie has a lot of world building elements which I usually love but to me didn’t work. Wakanda is obviously about African culture and symbols which would be fine if it didn’t conflict with what we are being told. We are told for example that Wakanda is essentially lightyears more civilized and advanced than any other nation on Earth. And yet to determine their king they have trial by combat to the death. Say what you want about Democracy but I’ll still take it over any form which allows a man called Killmonger to rule. And despite having technology that would make Tony Stark salivate, people still fight with spears and live in mud huts? You see how the two elements just don’t gel?

The story is flawed, has holes, and is rather oddly paced. The big baddie Killmonger, who is one of the more interesting villains, is almost not in the film and we instead get Andy Serkis for much of the run time doing a dreadful performance. As I mentioned before the action is dull due to the lack of tension and the special effects are shockingly dated. I was getting Spider-man levels of dated CGI in this.

Overall the movie was just rather dull and uninteresting. That doesn’t mean I’m done with the character. I didn’t like Captain America’s first movie and I loved the two sequels so there is hope. But to me, Black Panther is on the lower tier of Marvel movies along side Doctor Strange and Thor/Thor 2.

To The Wonder (Terrence Malick) 2012 Knight of Cups (2015) Song to Song (2017)

Posted in What I've Seen This Week on March 13, 2018 by moviemoses

These movies are considered to be Terrence Malick’s low point of his career to the point that some would say these films expose his lack of talent. However I have decided to see these films for myself and just lump them together in one review since, after seeing them, they are all practically the same thing. So here we go.

To The Wonder is about Neil (Ben Affleck) who falls in love in Paris and brings his lover back home to Oklahoma. The two have problems and Neil falls for a childhood sweetheart. Meanwhile a pastor (Javier Bardem) struggles with his faith.

In terms of plot, well, that’s about all your going to get. In literal terms that’s true because you will find for his next three films, Malick shot without a script. He would just give his actors random feelings and thoughts and film them during the day. Malick is someone has always put plotting far behind themes but in these movies they are at the bottom of the list. This movie is based loosely on some parts of his life although I’m not sure what he’s trying to get at with this story.

In fact I’m not sure what to get from anything in this movie and I’m not being flippant. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to glean from the love story, or the pastor’s problems, or both. I could guess that both are about finding love (Marina’s from a physical perspective and Quintero from a spiritual one) and the frustrations that both provide, but I’m really reaching far into my ass for that one. Quintero’s plot comes with seemingly no real conclusion or even a suggestion of what we are supposed to walk away with. And the only thing I could get from Neil’s storyline is how empty of a shell he is. Neil practically says nothing during the film, is emotionally dead, and provides no signs of affection in either relationship. Again, I could ponder about what Neil is supposed to be (as I clearly am meant to) but I feel as if any speculation would simply be me creating something out of whole cloth. There is a line between giving the audience the dots and letting them connect them, and having no dots and essentially the emperor has no clothes to mix metaphors.

The film is lovingly shot although with Terrance Malick that is a given. I mean just take it for a fact that his movies look gorgeous until told otherwise. I know Malick or hard core Malick fans will tell me I’m watching the movie wrong and that it is more meditative but even compared to Malick’s earlier works this is far too vague and ambiguous.

Knight of Cups is about a big shot writer in Hollywood Rick (Christian Bale) who is having an existential crisis and through the course of the film has relationships with six different women.

Now this movie has been criticized as being #firstworldproblemsTHEMOVIE and being a glorified perfume ad where various women prance around a morose looking Christian Bale. But compared at least to To The Wonder, there is at least something I can work with here. Bale’s character, despite his success in just about everything feels empty. Got it. I can work with that. The films visuals do get across the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Rick’s round the clock party lifestyle while portraying his boredom with it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I still wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone but hard core Malick fans, but compared to To The Wonder, this film at least has…things to it. It has themes like with the tarot card and with Rick’s story being a parallel with the Hymn of the Pearl which is read at the beginning, and actual character moments like interactions with his father and learning about a dead brother. Its the closest Malick in his experimentation has come to linking the feeling of existential angst to his meditative style of film making. And it is the one of the three that I will most likely see again.

That leave us with Song to Song. This involves BV (Ryan Gosling) a singer who is involved with Faye (Rooney Mara) who is the receptionist/lover of slimy music producer Cook (Michael Fassbender).

Maybe this is because I am now six hours into a Malick marathon but his affects are really getting to me at this point. I can only see so many shots of women prancing around the desert, lovers engaging in horseplay, and people extending their arms out into the setting sun while whispering vague lines before I am thoroughly bored. I will say Song to Song has the most plot out of all three in that we follow these two love triangles and we get actual dialog but that doesn’t save the movie at this point.

I’ve heard this movie is supposed to give you the feeling about how live is a series of moments, of how we live “song to song” but I really didn’t get that. For one, if you want a movie that does that feeling better, watch Boyhood. But two, this film felt uninspired especially after Knight of Cups which Malick shot back to back. And when I say this movie is more uninspired and worse than what some consider Malick’s worst than Knight of Cups, you have a problem.

So after seeing all three of these movies did they expose Malick? I don’t think so. I think Malick is simply going through an admittedly experimental phase. He is trying to work with visuals and feelings and simply failing. Are there any of these movies I would recommend? Again, unless you are a big fan, none of these except for Knight of Cups.